Another day in Parliament…


P{arliament in sessionFrom Hansard, September 21 this year and  in no particular order –  questions, serious issues, flippant put-downs – and not much else….

JACINDA ARDERN (Labour) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by all his statements after almost seven years as Prime Minister?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, especially the statement I made that when Jacinda Ardern becomes the leader, the cool thing is that I will have faced more Labour leaders than Australian Prime Ministers.

JACINDA ARDERN : Does he stand by his statement that “A small majority of New Zealanders will say that they will change the flag.”, when the latest poll shows that after seeing his options, almost 70 percent have rejected change?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Yes, and what is rapidly emerging after 7 years of being Prime Minister is not only do I have to run the policies that the Government has, I now have to try to implement the policies that the Opposition has as well.

JACINDA ARDERN : Is his claim that the polls are not granular enough the reason he has started his own poll by asking every audience at every speech he gives whether they want the flag to change, including at a cancer fund-raiser; if so, is this granular, scientific, or—most important—is it appropriate?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : All of the above.

Mr SPEAKER : The answer was not heard. Could the Prime Minister—

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : All of the above.

JACINDA ARDERN : Are the rumours true that his chief of staff is trying to get him to stop doing straw polls on the flag in every single speech, because his audiences are angry at having to waste their time on his pet project?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Far from that being correct, I think record numbers of people are turning up.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Both front benches, again, are interjecting and carrying on a conversation. If they wish to do so, I invite them to go out to the lobbies.

JACINDA ARDERN : When he claimed on Radio New Zealand National that “I haven’t had an audience yet where more than 50 percent wanted to keep the flag.”, was that a reference to a straw poll of his National caucus?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No, but I will tell you what I have not done, and that is come to Parliament and claim I am opposed to changing the flag but go down on to the forecourt waving “Red Peak”. This is a Labour Opposition that has a policy that it wants to change the flag. Now, all of a sudden, those members do not want to do it. The only single question is, how long will it be before they change the leader?

ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition): After seven years is he proud, as the Prime Minister who called himself the son of a State house family, that there are now nearly 2,500 fewer State houses for families who need them and that many of the ones that are left are mouldy, rotting, and cold?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am very proud of the fact that we have been tidying up and fixing up the State housing mess that was left by Labour, and I am very proud of the fact we are the first Government in 43 years to have raised benefits.

ANDREW LITTLE : After 7 years in power is it acceptable that according to the warrant of fitness trial 6,600 State houses have severe mould, which means they cannot be fixed just by the tenant?

Hon DR NICK SMITH : We’ve insulated 35,000 of them.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : As the Minister for Building and Housing just pointed out, we have insulated 35,000 State houses, spending nearly $400 million a year tidying up the absolute mess we inherited from Labour. It was a disgrace, and that is why so many Housing New Zealand tenants are actually grateful for the actions the Government is taking.

ANDREW LITTLE : Is it acceptable that after 7 years in power he still has 3,000 State houses with leaking roofs, 7,300 State houses with dangerous electrical wiring, and 12,600 State houses with rotting or broken walls?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Firstly, I would be very suspect about the member’s numbers. But what I would say to the member is there were 9 long years of Labour and it let down those State housing tenants. It is a disgrace. Thank goodness we fixed up those State houses…

ANDREW LITTLE : Does he realise that the $26 million cost of the flag referendum is nearly enough to pay to fix all State houses to pass the warrant of fitness, and why is a failing flag project more important to him than healthy Kiwi kids?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Firstly, this is a Government that has raised benefits for the first time in 43 years. Secondly, this is a Government that is spending more money fixing up those State houses than Labour ever did. Thirdly, excuse me for actually carrying out what we campaigned on—clearly when the Labour Party has a policy it does not mean anything.


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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.